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Italy’s far-right surge spells little change for weary migrants

In a derelict car park a stone’s throw from the centre of Rome live dozens of mostly African migrants, who sleep in tents while dreaming of escaping to northern Europe.
The March 4 general election saw parties promising mass expulsions of illegal immigrants make big gains, but in reality little will change for those huddled in the campsite.
Their makeshift homes have been provided by the Baobab Experience, a volunteer organisation which has been working with migrants since 2015 despite repeated evictions and police confiscating their materials.
Kicked out of their original home in an old glassworks near Rome’s Tiburtina train station just before Christmas 2015, Baobab’s present shelter for migrants is a campsite that is under constant threat.
“We have already been evicted more than 20 times,” coordinator Andrea Costa told AFP.
“We often say in Italy that there’s no limit to how bad things can get. But I wonder what could be worse than a tent camp.”
More than 690,000 migrants, most from Sub-Saharan Africa, have arrived in Italy by boat from Libya since 2013.
Migration study foundation ISMU estimates that around 500,000 — 0.9 percent of the population — are living in the country illegally.

No surprise

Baobab says that since 2015 it has worked with more than 70,000 migrants, of whom 95 percent want to leave Italy.
Many come to them after leaving Italy’s asylum reception system, either in an attempt to move north or because their asylum application has failed.
But those who are trying to stay in the country don’t expect much to change.
Patrick, a 29-year-old undocumented Nigerian, has been in Italy for four years after arriving via Libya, and has remained despite his asylum application being rejected.
He splits his days between his shared apartment on the outskirts of Rome, Italian lessons and begging outside a supermarket in a wealthy area of the city.

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